The premise is pretty simple: a man decides to run for mayor as George Washington. He enlists the help of his good friends and fellow founders in an effort to get elected. The man is not the real George Washington, but he is counting on the ignorance of the populace and the apathy of the media not to ask any questions along the way. So, I ask you: is this all that far-fetched? It might be. I don’t think anyone with the talent to portray a founding father would accept a low-paying job like that of a government worker, but hey, politicians have done dumber things. I can tell you from interacting with members of the historical re-enacting community that their rates are quite high and they would have to be willing to take a six digit pay cut to do something like this.
So, if it’s all hyperbole then: why does this show matter? This question is not so simple to answer, but it is the most important thing that I can talk about. This show matters because it is unique, it is creative, and it is unlike anything that has ever been tried on television. That last sentence is why TV executives think that this show will never get produced. Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, that they said the same thing about Breaking Bad. TV isn’t all that different than any other business. They want someone with a proven track record of success, boatloads of experience managing tons of successful ventures that is young, preferably still in their twenties with an open mind that is willing to be indoctrinated by their management professionals. See any puzzling dualities yet? Keep in mind that this is, to the TV executive just as it is to the recruiter, all quite obvious and logical to them. Indeed, why would they settle for anything less? It is not difficult to see why most TV executives are legitimately frightened by what real innovators like Netflix and Amazon are doing. These companies are taking risks on unproven talent who have big ideas. These folks also tend to be self-starters and because of their relative inexperience willing to work for relatively little money.
We find ourselves living in a creative cesspool of larvae and glorified horse manure. When I turn on my sixty inch television and tune into some original programming I lament the decision to invest in a television. It is that bad. Don’t get me wrong; every network has a serviceable show and by serviceable I mean I could watch it in a Clockwork Orange situation where a machine was holding my eyelids open while a doctor sat next to me pouring eye drops into my eyes. These aren’t anything to get excited about. Even TV mainstays like The Daily Show have become rundown, aged leviathans that make me yearn for the yesteryears when they at least tried to engage in comedy and didn’t try so hard to be the new MSNBC. You know that you’re past your peak when you’re more interested in making a political point than you are in making a joke. What some folks at Comedy Central are doing right interestingly enough comes up after they’ve had the nice lead-in audience from the Jon Stewart produced hour of programming prior to it: @Midnight. It’s a clever little show that makes use of social media and comedians in poking fun at the internet which was something the Daily Show used to do, but traded it in to become the new Walter Cronkites or whatever.
What is happening in entertainment and media is so frightening that were I not so dogmatically tied to my own TV show, the characters it brings to life, the themes it embodies, and the stories it plays out that I would likely give up on media. It’s been a nice run for me. I’ve had fun and it’s been an eye-opening experience but the people who are producing things nowadays aren’t the people that I want to work with. They don’t have the vision to put together a good product; they have an idea of what advertisers would like them to make and what focus groups think they’d like to watch. If one were to walk into one of these focus groups Frank Luntz style one would be terrified even further by the insane amount of indecision that exists within the average Americans mind as to what exactly they want. This is why we have artists. The job of an artist is to tell a story that people not only want to hear but need to hear. That is what I’m doing with Living History. This is a show that tells jokes at the expense of politicians, political parties, the media, and even the average voter.
What Living History represents is a fundamental shift in the paradigm of creative content in media. That’s what I hope it does at least. I want anyone with a historically themed project to be able to send unsolicited copies of their scripts to real production companies and actually have someone sit down and read it. I want real artists to be taken seriously and I believe that a guy from St. Louis has as much right and ability to do that as anyone living in LA or New York. LA and New York are the places where creative hopes and dreams go to die. They are places that are romanticized by the people that live there for the people that live there. I joke every year that the film that will win the most awards (and usually the Best Picture Oscar) is the movie that makes Hollywood look like the place that everyone in the upper echelons of the entertainment business actually believes it to be. These are fourth or even fifth generation studio owners who think they know a thing or two about “creating” something. The writers that work there tell them that they’re geniuses so that these studio heads will give them money to write adaptations of prior content that can be regurgitated in a manner that a fifth grader could understand because pitching to a smart audience has been frowned upon for the last fifteen to twenty years.
I believe that the audience for creative content is smarter than people give them credit for or at least want to be. I believe people visit Wikipedia because it is an easy place to find information not because they’re looking for the most dumbed-down version of events available to man (Cliff’s Notes is still available, right?) The truth is though that we live in a very divided country politically, ideologically and culturally. A recent study came out that analyzed the opinions of two thousand climate scientists and only three of said scientists disagreed with the idea that climate change poses a huge and existential threat to our planet. Three out of two thousand. I’m not good at math but I think that’s more than half or as I like to jokingly put it: a mathematician calls it near unanimity; a conservative calls it a conspiracy. This is the world we live in. It’s polarized. We can do something about or not. My bet is that we don’t, but my God let’s at least say something about it! That’s what Living History is trying to do and I hope that you can take the time to check out what we’re trying to do because somebody should be saying something even if it’s just speaking gibberish to gibber-gabbers. If you scream at someone loud enough and long enough chances are they’ll at least realize that you’re not speaking with your indoor voice anymore.